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The Top 5 Search Engine Marketing Mistakes

Mistake #1: Buying into the Myth that SE Optimization No Longer Works

There's no question search engine optimization has become more challenging over the years. Many critics have taken this and declared that search engine marketing is no longer effective. However, research from third parties like the recent NPD Group study refute this idea. The NPD Group study demonstrated that search engine listings result in six times more sales on average than an equivalent number of visitors from banners ads. That means visitor to visitor, you'll make six times more money on search engine listings than banners. I personally receive countless testimonials from customers who claim dramatic increases in traffic and revenues after starting their SE optimization efforts.

So don't fall victim to the biggest mistake: The assumption that search engine marketing doesn't work anymore or it's a battle you simply can't win. The key is to arm yourself with the right knowledge combined with the right tools so you will win.

Mistake #2: Bulk Submitting is the Path to Riches

Go on and admit it. We all dream about it. We want to find that perfect product or service where we enter our domain name and then press one button and the traffic magically starts to flood into our Web site. You've seen the advertisements such as "Submit to 3500 Web sites for just $79." The reality is that the majority of those sites you're submitting to are set up for the sole purpose of collecting e-mail addresses from people like you so they can send you junk mail. Within hours you'll receive hundreds of e-mails like "Thank you for submitting to Joe's FFA Site, now take a look at our home-made discount Viagra products."

Even if you do land your site in some of the real search engines (there aren't that many), those bulk submission services generally do little to nothing to optimize your rankings. You'll simply be buried at the bottom of the results with the millions of other Web sites.

Mistake #3: Meta Tags Will Solve All My Problems

In the press you've probably seen one of many tutorials on how to create the perfect meta tags so the search engines can find you. What they don't tell you is that the majority of the major search engines don't even read meta tags anymore. The ones that do read them tend to give them little importance when deciding how your page will rank.

Some of the "experts" will tell you to simply include your keywords in your title and meta tags and to create a Web site with quality content. The search engines will then naturally flock to you and rank your site near the top. Certainly title tags and content quality are important, but don't make the mistake that this is all you need to do to be found on the Web today.

Sometimes a link from a major directory such as Open Directory, LookSmart, or Yahoo will suffice. However, you should also try to trade links with other Web sites that are complimentary to yours, then submit the URLs of those pages that are linking to you. If you can submit the page of one of these external links and let the search engine spider find your site on it's own, you'll stand to rank much higher than if you'd submitted your site directly. The drawback is that it may take a bit longer for the spider to get around to indexing you.

If you're in a big hurry, buy a second domain and put some unique content on it and cross-link your two sites. To give the impression of independence, it's best if you host the two domains at separate hosting services. You might also vary the spelling of the information you submit when your purchase the domains or use a valid PO Box on one and your street address for the other. This can further the illusion to an automated spider that the two sites have different owners.

Mistake #4: Believing Doorways Don't Work or Will Get Me Banned

There's been so much negative publicity put out by the search engines about the evils of doorways that many of the SE optimization experts are coming up with clever new names like informational pages, spotlight pages, gateways, etc. to differentiate themselves, not realizing they are only complicating the issue. The fact is that every page on your Web site that ranks well for any reason is acting as a "doorway" to your Web site. Many people mistakenly believe that everyone will arrive at their site through the home page. However, do a focused search on Google, AltaVista, or another major engine. You'll almost always find matches that are not home pages.

In addition, each search engine ranks pages differently. Therefore, you may have a page about Product X with 400 words on it. That page may rank well for "search engine A" that likes to see 400 words on a top ranking page, but it isn't going to do well for "search engine B" that is looking for 800 words on a top ranking page. There are other examples, but you see the problem.

Lastly, some of the same search engines that condemn the term doorway page include tutorials or FAQ's on how to create a page to rank well in their index. True, these tutorials are often too non-specific to be of great help. However, it confirms that optimizing each of your pages to rank better is not something the engines inherently object to.

Mistake #5: Submitting Before Establishing any External Links

We have customers who use a submitter and achieve great results. However, we have others who setup a new site and are unable to get indexed. Or, they submit and see their site indexed only to be dropped two to three weeks later. There are many mistakes that can create these scenarios, but one that is easy to fall into is failing to achieve any links from other Web sites before submitting.

Some engines such as HotBot are known to drop pages after a couple weeks if it finds no other domains linking to it. Google has also stated that it will not index a site that does not have at least one external link pointing to it.